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Posts Tagged ‘ballet’

Christopher Stowell Returns to SF Ballet as Ballet Master, Assistant to Artistic Director

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Christopher Stowell; photo by Joni Kabana

Christopher Stowell;
photo by Joni Kabana

Christopher Stowell, former artistic director of Oregon Ballet Theatre, has been appointed to the title of ballet master and assistant to the artistic director at San Francisco Ballet.

Beginning August 25, Stowell—who danced with SF Ballet for 16 years—will oversee a number of artistic duties in addition to those held by former ballet master and assistant to the artistic director Bruce Sansom.

Stowell will report to SF Ballet artistic director and principal choreographer Helgi Tomasson, and work with the ballet’s administrative team on matters of planning, budgeting, and program expense management. He will also assist with scheduling, and artist and season management. As ballet master, Stowell will teach company class and rehearse ballets for the repertory season.

Born in New York City, Stowell received his training at Pacific Northwest Ballet School and the School of American Ballet before joining SF Ballet in 1985. Stowell has taught and coached in San Francisco, New York, Japan, China, and Europe, and has created new works for SF Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Diablo Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, as well as the New York City Ballet Choreographic Institute.

Stowell served as OBT’s artistic director from 2003 to 2012. For more information, visit http://www.sfballet.org/about/media_center/press_releases/Chris_Stowell.

 

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Retiring PBT Corps Member Stephen Hadala in a Class By Himself

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Stephen Hadala; photo by Nicholas Coppula

Stephen Hadala; photo by Nicholas Coppula

In a mid-sized company like Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, a corps de ballet member is usually a face in the crowd—a villager, one in a group of friends, a supporting player.

But after his final PBT performance as the foppish nobleman Gamache in Don Quixote, Stephen Hadala took center stage, surrounded by the entire company. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said it was the first time in more than 40 years that PBT had so honored a member of the corps de ballet.

Maybe that was because the 16-year veteran was in a class by himself, above the usual distinctions between principal dancer, soloist, and corps. During his career, he never coveted a promotion. His steadiness, work ethic, and sense of humor made him a “rock” of the company, his colleagues say.

Robert Vickrey, assistant to the artistic director, recalls how the young Hadala would attend a full day of PBT rehearsals then walk to a full-time job at a Rite Aid.

“It was his determination and perseverance,” Vickrey said. “He never slacked off. He kept his nose to the grindstone and was always in class. But there was no one in the world who was more fun than Stephen. You could say anything to him and he had an answer for it.”

Hadala joined the company in 1998, and quickly began to show a gift for character roles, making his mark as Dracula, Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Dr. Coppelius in Coppélia.

“Stephen personalized roles no matter how big or how small,” PBT principal dancer Julia Erickson said. “He made something out of everything.”

He gradually developed into a secure partner, debuted in contemporary works, helped to train new dancers, and, as union representative for 14 years, won the respect of management and fellow dancers.

Hadala will return to Detroit so he and his sister can take over the Allard Academy of Dance, the place where everything began. To read the full story, visit http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/theater-dance/2014/07/27/Pittsburgh-Ballet-Theatre-loses-a-rock-as-Hadala-retires/stories/201407230001.

 

 

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International Dance Star, Ángel Corella, Assumes Helm of Pennsylvania Ballet

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Ángel Corella; photo courtesy Muppet Wikia

Ángel Corella; photo courtesy Muppet Wikia

Often called “one of the finest dancers of his generation,” American Ballet Theatre standout Ángel Corella has been appointed artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet.

“We are incredibly excited to be bringing a director with this level of talent, experience, and passion into our community,” board co-chair David Hoffman said in a release. “Pennsylvania Ballet is at the threshold of a new and dynamic era that calls for an artistic leader with the vision, energy, and creativity to excite audiences. Ángel has the power to make Philadelphia one of the most exhilarating dance cities in the world.”

Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, Corella joined ABT in 1995 and was promoted to principal dancer the following year. He is credited with elevating the technique and artistry of male dancing throughout the world and possessing incredible technical skills matched only by his warmth and passion for the dance.

Corella has spent the last six years in Spain as director of his own company, originally the Corella Ballet Castilla y León, which became the Barcelona Ballet. “Pennsylvania Ballet has such a great reputation, such great dancers and such a loyal audience,” he said. “My dream is to build on this rich history, its Balanchine legacy, and make the company a center for all the best in ballet, a true national model.”

He will replace Roy Kaiser, who is stepping down after 19 years as artistic director to assume the title of artistic director emeritus. To see the full release, visit http://www.paballet.org/pennsylvania-ballet-trustees-appoint-%C3%A1ngel-corella-artistic-director.

 

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Royal Ballet’s Cinema Season Ranges from Winter Tales to White Swans

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; image courtesy Fathom Events

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland;
image courtesy Fathom Events

Five sumptuous Royal Ballet productions will be broadcast to more than 360 cinema screens in the U.S. October through May as part of the 2014–15 Royal Ballet Cinema Season, presented by Fathom Events and the Royal Opera House.

Killer Aphrodite said four ballets will be captured live from London: Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon on October 16, Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on December 16, Anthony Dowell’s Swan Lake on March 19, and Frederick Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardée on May 5. Rounding out the season is the broadcast of the prerecorded The Winter’s Tale on February 17, also choreographed by Wheeldon.

Each event in the series will also feature 15 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage including interviews with the performers and specially captured rehearsal elements.

Alastair Roberts, managing director of Royal Opera House Enterprises, said the ballet is excited not only about the expanded cinema broadcast season, but also about its planned 2015 tour of the U.S., with performances set for Chicago, Washington, DC, and New York City.

Tickets for the 2014–15 Royal Ballet Cinema Season are on sale at participating theater box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com. For more information about Royal Opera House and the ballet series, visit www.roh.org.uk.

To see the original story, visit http://www.killeraphrodite.com/2014/07/news-royal-opera-house-ballet-series-returns-2nd-season-u-s-cinemas/.

 

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Second Annual Cape Dance Festival Brings World-Class Dance to Cape Cod

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Annmaria Mazzini of Mazzini Dance Collective; photo by Sarah Sterner Photography

Annmaria Mazzini of Mazzini Dance Collective; photo by
Sarah Sterner Photography

The Cape Dance Festival, scheduled for July 26 at 6pm at the Province Lands Amphitheatre in Provincetown, Massachusetts, has been a labor of love for co-founders Stacey-Jo Marine and Liz Wolff. And that affection for increasing the amount of dance performance on the Cape has been embraced throughout the region.

“The summer program this year will have a different feel with a lot of new work,” says Marine in Provincetown Magazine. “Newer work and a fresh vibe.”

Scheduled performers include Boston Ballet soloist John Lam, along with dancers from the Martha Graham Dance Company, CorbinDances, Nickerson-Rossi Dance, Take Dance, Mazzini Dance Collective, Pedro Ruiz, and Project Moves Dance Company.

Marine and Wolff formed Cape Dance Festival in 2013 to bring world-class dance to the residents and visitors of Cape Cod through education, altruism, and performance. Marine, who teaches dance production at Marymount Manhattan College, is currently touring with the Martha Graham Dance Company as production supervisor. Wolff is a life-long summer resident of the Cape who danced professionally in New York and Cleveland for 15 years, and is the co-curator for Dance On Camera, a film festival held annually at Lincoln Center, NYC.

The Province Lands Amphitheater is located at 171 Race Point Road, next to the Province Lands Visitor Center. For more information, visit http://capedancefestival.com/.

 

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David Hallberg Enjoying ‘Dual Citizenship’ in Ballet Worlds of Russia and U.S.

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David Hallberg in the Bolshoi Ballet’s Swan Lake; photo by Stephanie Berger/AP

David Hallberg in the Bolshoi Ballet’s Swan Lake;
photo by Stephanie Berger/AP

Talk about worlds colliding. For the past three years, since David Hallberg made headlines by becoming the first American—and first foreigner—to be named a principal dancer at the storied Bolshoi Ballet, Hallberg, a blond, elegant dancer from the American heartland, has lived what he calls two separate lives—his American life, in New York (where he still dances for American Ballet Theatre), and his Russian life, in Moscow.

But last week, the two converged, as the Bolshoi performed in New York for the first time in nearly a decade.

An Associated Press story in the Houston Chronicle said that over the past three years Hallberg has become known as sort of a ballet diplomat: a dancer who took the reverse journey to the one Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov took many years earlier, when they defected. He’s hired a personal publicist, travels the world making guest appearances, and has been a subject of artsy fashion magazine shoots.

He’s feeling “more and more part of the fabric of the Bolshoi.” Almost everyone has been welcoming, he says, down to the cleaners in the hallways. “They all want to say good morning, practice their English,” he laughs.

As for his own Russian, it’s been a slow process. In time, though, he’s built a nice Moscow social life, he says—not so much with dancers as with designers, photographers, stylists, and artists. He’s developed an affinity for a city he once hated—and doesn’t seem to mind the cold.

At work, he’s found that he’s immersed mainly in the classics, like Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. While that can be satisfying, and is physically quite demanding, he says he needs to find time to stretch himself with contemporary choreographers. “I just have to stay aware, because it could turn into all Swan Lakes, all around the world,” he says.

He adds: “You know, when I went to the Bolshoi, I thought, ‘This could totally blow up in my face. I could be back in New York in six months.’ But sometimes life says, ‘Listen, this is what’s going to happen. This is the ride that you’re going to go on.’ ”

To read the full story, visit http://www.chron.com/entertainment/article/A-full-circle-moment-for-Bolshoi-s-American-star-5628393.php.

 

 

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Tune In Next Week to Catch Final Round of Varna International Ballet Competition

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IBC Varna 2014; photo courtesy Facebook

IBC Varna 2014; photo courtesy Facebook

Some 130 representatives of 30 countries are taking part in the 26th edition of the International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria, which aims at finding young talents in classical and contemporary ballet.

2014 marks 50 years since the inaugural Varna festival, founded in 1964 as the world’s first professional international competition. Vladimir Vasiliev from Russia will serve as jury chair for this year’s panel, which includes judges from Cuba, Bulgaria, USA, Japan, Germany, Romania, Monaco, Argentina, France, Korea, China, and Kazakhstan.

Ballet fans around the world can tune in next week as some of the competition and special events are broadcast live on BNT World July 26, 27, 29, and 30 at 8pm Central European Summer Time. (To access the broadcast, visit http://tv.bnt.bg/bntworld/.)

Competition began Tuesday. The third round will take place July 26 and 27. Prizes will be awarded at the official closing ceremony July 29, followed by a Super Gala, “Meeting of Generations,” on July 30.

To learn more about Varna, visit http://www.varna-ibc.org/site/?lang=en.

 

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No Pink Tutus Here: London Boys Ballet School First Of Its Kind

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London Boys Ballet School; photo courtesy London Boys Ballet School

London Boys Ballet School;
photo courtesy London Boys Ballet School

The London Boys Ballet School, the first of its kind in the UK, is dedicated entirely to boys, according to its founder James Anthony, who hopes to remove the stigma surrounding boys doing ballet, reports BBC News London.

Anthony, 33, a former teacher and sports coach, says he started the school partially because “I really wanted to take up ballet when I was at school but I thought I would get bullied.”

He said he hoped to stop other boys being put off by creating an environment where they do not feel like the odd ones out. “It’s all about changing the image. There’s nothing girly about the “huge amounts of strength, confidence, flexibility, and athletic ability,” needed by males who dance, he said.

Royal Ballet School figures show the number of boys who applied for full-time training there increased by 30 percent in the past two years. Elsewhere, Matthew Bourne—probably Britain’s best-known choreographer—recently recruited more than 300 novice dancers for his Lord of the Flies tour, in an attempt to get more young men dancing.

And the school has appeared to be receiving recognition from far afield, ever since it opened in March. “We get emails from all over the world praising us for what we do,” Anthony adds.

To read the full story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-28129203.

 

 

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Despite Tough Financial Times, Joan Myers Brown and Philadanco Dance On

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Joan Myers Brown; photo courtesy Philadanco

Joan Myers Brown;
photo courtesy Philadanco

Joan Myers Brown is a Philadelphia legend: in 1960 she started a school—and a decade later, the dance company Philadanco—hoping to nullify entrenched racism in ballet, modern, and theatrical dance. She is also founder of the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), a performance forum and broad-based cultural exchange.

But when Brown received a National Medal for the Arts Award from President Obama last year, she said she was honored, but more concerned with the fiscal shape of her company, reported the

Huffington Post. Today, at age 82 and getting ready for her company’s 45th season, there is no time for a victory lap.

“If I don’t get the company back on its feet, financially, I’m going to have start from scratch,” Brown said. For years she has been one of the few companies to contract her dancers with year-round salaries, and recently she was forced to put them on a two-month furlough.

Philadanco is anything but a static dance company; Brown nurtures new choreographers and new artistic collaborations with other city arts institutions like the Philadelphia Orchestra. The company typically tours 40-plus weeks a year, with many dates sold out. But it never makes enough in ticket sales to pay all the bills. Like many other arts organizations, dance companies have to secure grants and corporate funding to remain solvent, but dance grants are disappearing or becoming more bureaucratically arbitrary and difficult to negotiate.

Brown echoes the frustration of a lot of artistic directors who have proven track records, yet still have to prove themselves worthy. “Being dictating to, what you can and can’t do, so you are not allowed to do your art. I get grants, but there are strings attached.” Rather than lamenting, Brown is even more resolute. The company will head out on another European tour in January.

To read the full story, visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lew-whittington/despite-fiscal-setbacks-p_b_5584763.html?utm_hp_ref=arts&ir=Arts.

 

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Ballet Idaho Academy Dancer With Bright Future Overcomes Rough Start in Life

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Antonio Carnell; photo by Eric Turner /KTVB

Antonio Carnell; photo by Eric Turner /KTVB

Close to 250 students take classes at Ballet Idaho Academy, including one male dancer who is beating the odds while hoping for a future in ballet, reports KTVB.com.

“I get a lot of attention,” admits dancer Antonio Carnell, 15, who is into his sixth year of study at Ballet Idaho. Carnell was prenatally exposed to drugs, born premature, and went through withdrawal. He lived in foster homes in St. Louis, Missouri, before being adopted at age 3 by Michael and Diane Carnell, who brought Antonio to Boise and gave him a safe place to grow.

“Even when he was little he was such a performer,” said Diane. When he showed an interest in dance at age 10, his family encouraged him. A dance scholarship at Ballet Idaho sealed the deal.

Antonio’s teachers say he has a natural ability. “He has a wonderful stage personality,” said academy director Emily Wallace. “And you really see that in him, that drive to perfection.”

The teenager is working hard to reach his goal of becoming an accomplished dancer, including taking part in a summer intensive in Oregon for the next few weeks. Instructors in Boise say he has the potential to keep growing, and perhaps dance in a ballet company in the future.

To see the original story, visit http://www.ktvb.com/story/news/local/2014/07/15/boise-teen-ballet-adversity/12681599/.

 

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Dancers Starting Earlier Than Ever in Babywearing Ballet Class

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Babywearing Ballet class; photo courtesy Daily Mail

Babywearing Ballet class; photo courtesy Daily Mail

It’s ballet, but not quite as you know it. As well as the usual ballet attire, dancers are also wearing their babies. The Daily Mail reports that in a new fitness craze sweeping the U.S., Babywearing Ballet is being billed as the perfect exercise class for new mothers, especially those who can’t find a babysitter.

It means the little ones are already doing pliés and tendus before they can even walk. For the duration of the class, the mothers practice usual ballet techniques while wearing their newborn babies in a baby carrier or sling.

It is claimed that not only do the classes benefit the mothers who get a gentle, safe, and effective workout, but the babies too, who enjoy the movement and music, said to emulate the swaying and motion they felt in the womb.

Ballet dancer and mother of two Morgan Castner created this class in Tustin, California.

Now a video she posted on Facebook showing her students dancing with their babies has been shared more than 20,000 times. Castner said she has been overwhelmed by the response to her video since posting it online.

Castner teaches with her nine-week-old daughter Quinn in a sling and came up with the idea two years ago. She explains: “My son was 11 months old and with my husband serving in the military, I was looking for fun things we could do together out of the house while he was away. I love dancing and loved babywearing, so it was a natural progression.”

Castner says that the main focus of the class is bonding between mother and child, adding that it is only natural that babies enjoy the motion from dance and find it relaxing after being swayed in the womb for nine months.

According to her website, classes begin by warming up at the barre with pliés, tendus and dégagés and move to center floor work, all while wearing the little one in a sling. Castner says Babywearing Ballet is suitable for all levels of fitness and for babies from newborn to any babywearing age. All participants need is a comfortable and secure baby carrier and usual gym clothes.

Tutus are optional.

To see the original story, visit http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2692910/A-workout-without-babysitter-The-ballet-class-allows-new-moms-dance-WEARING-babies.html.

 

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Filmmaker’s Robotic Camera Creates Stunning Film of Romantic Pas De Deux

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Francesca da Rimini; photo Alexander Reneff-Olson

Francesca da Rimini; photo Alexander Reneff-Olson

Star-crossed lovers. Immaculate dance moves. Giant robots. If it sounds like the plot of the newest Guillermo del Toro movie, you wouldn’t be too far from the truth. The reality, however, might be even more exciting: Tchaikovsky’s ballet fantasia, Francesca da Rimini, choreographed by Yuri Possokhov and danced by Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada of San Francisco Ballet—and gorgeously filmed with the aid of a massive, robot-controlled camera.

As director Tarik Abdel-Gawad explained in The Creators Project: “The film itself brings the viewer closer to a ballet performance than is possible on a stage. Using a robot allows the camera to be choreographed as well as the dancers, achieving spectacular shots designed specifically for this performance. The end result is a film that makes viewers feel they’re in the room dancing with the performers.”

The work began by capturing the real choreography digitally and with animated camera motion in 3D. The digital and the physical were then united as the real performance was shot with a motion control camera.

The robot never appears on screen: it is used as a tool for camera control. “The camera motion was designed to move in rhythm with the choreography, following the dancers like another performer that counters and amplifies their movement,” he said. “We didn’t want to change the choreography to accommodate the tech. The challenge was to perform it with an intimidating robotic partner. It was more difficult for the dancers to adapt to this environment than it was for the robot.”

To view the finished film, as well as a “making of” featurette, visit http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/robots-and-choreography-abound-in-this-update-to-a-ballet-masterpiece.

 

 

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Ballet San Antonio Expands Staff

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Amy Fote; photo courtesy Ballet San Antonio

Amy Fote; photo courtesy Ballet San Antonio

Ballet San Antonio, which will be the resident ballet troupe at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, has added dancers from across the country to its artistic staff, reports mySanAntonio.com.

Amy Fote, a former principal dancer with the Houston and Milwaukee ballets, will be coaching, mentoring, and rehearsing dancers. She replaces Dede Barfield. Susan Clark, who danced with the Atlanta and Milwaukee ballets, is being brought in as artistic associate and répétiteur.

Besides those hires, the company has added Ben Stevenson, a noted choreographer and artistic director emeritus of Houston Ballet, to its advisory board.

“Ben, Amy and Susan will be invaluable as we expand our repertoire and continue to shape our company’s artistic style,” Artistic Director Gabriel Zertuche said in a press release. “The fact that artists of this caliber are joining our Ballet San Antonio family, speaks to our strengths and the national attention we are attracting.”

The company kicks off its first season at Tobin with Zertuche’s “Dracula” in October.

To see the original story, visit http://blog.mysanantonio.com/weekender/2014/07/ballet-sa-expands-staff/.

 

 

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Emerging Choreographers Can Win Opportunity to Set Piece on Joffrey Student Dancers

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Choreographers of Color; image courtesy Joffrey Academy of Dance

Choreographers of Color;
image courtesy Joffrey Academy of Dance

The Joffrey Academy of Dance, official school of The Joffrey Ballet, announces a national call for artists to submit applications for the Joffrey Academy’s Fifth Annual Choreographers of Color Award.

The goal of the award is to recognize talented and emerging choreographers of color whose diverse perspective will ignite creativity in the form of original works of dance. The deadline for application is October 1, 2014.

The winning choreographers will be awarded a $2,500 stipend and given a minimum of 30 rehearsal hours. They will set their piece on the international members of the Joffrey Academy Trainee Program and the newly formed Joffrey Studio Company, and have the opportunity to work closely with Joffrey academy artistic directors Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev.

The choreographic work must be original and developed by the applicant and the finished piece must be a minimum of 10 minutes and maximum of 12 minutes long. The world premiere works will be showcased at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Avenue, March 7 and 8, 2015.

For application details, visit www.joffrey.org/winningworks.

 

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NYCB Soloist Justin Peck Becomes Company’s Resident Choreographer

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Justin Peck; photo by Andrea Mohin/New York Times

Justin Peck; photo by Andrea Mohin/New York Times

New York City Ballet soloist Justin Peck has been appointed resident choreographer just two years after creating his first piece for the company, reported the New York Times.

Peck’s appointment, announced on Wednesday and effective immediately, makes him the second person to hold this position at NYCB, after Christopher Wheeldon, who was the company’s resident choreographer from 2001 to 2008.

The appointment requires Peck, who will continue to dance with NYCB, to create two ballets a year for the next three years. He will also be able to create ballets for other companies—upcoming premieres of his work are planned for Pacific Northwest Ballet in November and Miami City Ballet in March.

“I’m ecstatic,” Peck, 26, said in a telephone interview from Saratoga Springs where NYCB was preparing for a week of performances, including his most recent ballet, Everywhere We Go. “It has been a dream or goal of mine to have a more permanent place as a dance maker, and City Ballet is my ideal place and my home in the dance mecca of New York.”

Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky (who was offered the resident choreographer position at NYCB after Wheeldon left, but went to American Ballet Theatre as its artist in residence in 2009) are generally considered the major ballet choreographers of the last decade.

Peck’s work “perfectly captures the spirit and dynamic of today’s generation of dancers at City Ballet,” said Wheeldon by telephone from Paris. “They are extremely lucky to have him.”

To see the full story, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/10/arts/dance/new-york-city-ballet-names-justin-peck-as-choreographer.html?_r=0.

 

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Entire San Francisco Ballet Company In Paris For Festival Performances

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San Francisco Ballet in Caprice;  photo by Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet in Caprice;
photo by Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet is in Paris for an unprecedented 17-day engagement at the Théâtre du Châtelet, beginning on July 10, and is featured in the Les Etés de la Danse Festival, reported San Francisco Classical Voice.

The company program is varied and extensive, compressing virtually the entire home season into the festival days. The entire company—principals, soloists, corps de ballet—is participating. A notable homecoming is that of Mathilde Froustey, on extended leave from the Paris Opera Ballet; she will stay with SF Ballet at least through 2015.

Opening night is an exceptionally generous gala. The program: Renato Zanella’s Alles Walzer, Val Caniparoli’s No Other, the pas de deux from Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto, Helgi Tomasson’s Chaconne for Piano and Two Dancers, Yuri Possokhov’s Classical Symphony, the pas de deux from George Balanchine’s Agon, Johan Kobborg’s Les Lutins, Frederick Ashton’s Voices of Spring, the second movement pas de deux from Balanchine’s Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain, and the fourth movement and finale from Balanchine’s Symphony in C.

From the opening until the July 26 closing concert, SF Ballet will present some three dozen works.

Interesting tidbit: Théâtre du Châtelet was originally used for drama performances. Beginning in April 1876, the stage version of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, adapted by Verne and Adolphe d’Ennery, began a run spanning 64 years and 2,195 performances (not continuously), until the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1940 closed the production permanently.

To see the original story, visit https://www.sfcv.org/article/sf-ballet-at-home-in-paris.

 

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Dancers, Fans, Ready to Wish ABT a Happy 75th Anniversary

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Gillian Murphy and Marcelo Gomes celebrate ABT’s 75th anniversary; photo by Gene Schiavone

Gillian Murphy and Marcelo Gomes celebrate ABT’s 75th anniversary; photo by Gene Schiavone

American Ballet Theatre’s upcoming 75th anniversary celebration will feature works by choreographers most closely associated with ABT, including Agnes de Mille, Antony Tudor, Michel Fokine, Frederick Ashton, Léonide Massine, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, and Alexei Ratmansky.

These works, such as Tudor’s Jardin aux Lilas and Robbins’ Fancy Free, will serve to showcase the company’s wide-ranging style, historic legacy, and continuing innovation. Special anniversary events commemorating the company’s history will be outlined in upcoming announcements.

ABT’s fall season at New York City’s David H. Koch Theater, set for October 22 to November 2, will include a world premiere by Liam Scarlett, and a new production of Raymonda Divertissements, staged by Kevin McKenzie and Irina Kolpakova after Marius Petipa.

ABT principal dancers include Isabella Boylston, Paloma Herrera, Julie Kent, Gillian Murphy, Veronika Part, Xiomara Reyes, Hee Seo, Herman Cornejo, Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg, Daniil Simkin, Cory Stearns, and James Whiteside.

Fall season tickets, priced from $20, go on sale July 14 at www.abt.org, the Koch box office, or at 212.496.0600.

 

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Reports of Bolshoi Director’s Health Scare Greatly Exaggerated

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Sergei Filin; photo by Jesse Dittmar for the Washington Post

Sergei Filin;
photo by Jesse Dittmar for the Washington Post

Bolshoi Ballet artistic director Sergei Filin, 43, has recovered from an acute allergic reaction to an eye treatment that sent him to the hospital Friday, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

Filin, who was nearly blinded in a 2013 acid attack, wasted no time getting back to the theater for rehearsals, an associate said Sunday.

The Washington Post passed along the Interfax report that Filin was discharged Sunday from Moscow’s Sklifosovsky Research Institute and is in “normal” condition. He then returned to rehearsals at the Bolshoi Theater, where he is overseeing a new production of The Taming of the Shrew set to premiere July 4.

On Friday, an allergic reaction caused swelling, “something similar to the attack from allergy to peanuts,” said Filin’s friend and former adviser at the Bolshoi, Dilyara Timergazina, in an e-mail. “His condition was immediately taken care of, but it was decided to take him to the hospital for further observation and detoxication. He is fine now.”

Interfax reported that the allergic condition is called Quincke’s edema.

Reports on Filin’s condition varied over the weekend, with some web sites reporting he was in grave or critical condition, or in a heart unit. Timergazina said these reports were false.

To see the original story, visit http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/theater_dance/bolshoi-ballet-director-back-at-work-again-after-health-scare/2014/06/29/70bb6b18-ff93-11e3-8572-4b1b969b6322_story.html.

 

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Pristine and Poised Korean Dancers Win Big at USA International Ballet Competition

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Jeong Hansol in “Forgot Something”; photo by Richard Finkelstein

Jeong Hansol in “Forgot Something”;
photo by Richard Finkelstein

Nearly half the nine dancers representing the Republic of Korea are going home with hardware from the 2014 USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, scoring more medal wins than any other country.

The Clarion-Ledger reported that only two American dancers, both in the women’s junior division (ages 15–18)—Gisele Bethea and Mackenzie Richter—leaped into the medals lineup. Bethea won gold and Richter won silver.

In what IBC international jury chair and dance legend Edward Villella termed “the finest of the fine,” medalists and other award winners were announced Friday morning following two weeks of intense competition at Thalia Mara Hall.

Republic of Korea’s Jeong Hansol, 21, took gold in the IBC’s most competitive field, the senior men’s division, with the help of his comedic contemporary piece, “Forgot Something,” appearing in tailcoat, hat, and hot-pink briefs as he illustrated a near-universal nightmare. Korea’s Byul Yun, 19, who won silver, said through an interpreter that he’d been to many competitions in the world, “but this one was one of the best. . . . This competition was one I dreamed of when I started dancing.”

Brazil scored three bronzes with dancers who, during the competitive rounds, captivated audiences that responded with a near rock-star welcome and audible buzz.

Along with her gold medal in the senior division, Japanese dancer Shiori Kase, 22, a soloist with the English National Ballet in London, was also taking home a global outlook on dance and this reminder: “I realize that it’s not just about technique. It’s about artistry, it’s about musicality. It made me think, again, that’s very important.”

To see the original story, visit http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2014/06/27/medals-awarded-th-usa-ibc/11519247/.

 

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Black and White Vintage Photos Depict Ballet’s Glamorous Past

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Vintage ballet photography; photo by Serge Lido

Vintage ballet photography;
photo by Serge Lido

For ballet fans, there’s nothing more fun than perusing a collection of black and white photographs from ballet’s glamorous past. Vintage Everyday has posted an interesting assortment of backstage, onstage, and publicity shots from the 1950s and 1960s by Russian-French photographer Serge Lido (1906–1984).

Though based in Paris, Lido gained an international reputation for his dance photos, which were published in magazines and also collected in book form, such as La Danse (1947) and Les Étoiles de la danse dans le monde (1975).

To view the 15 photos of Margot Fonteyn and others, visit http://www.vintag.es/2014/06/gorgeous-vintage-ballet-photography-by.html.

 

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Rhoden and Matvienko Team Up for The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby artistic and production team; photo courtesy Dance Informa

The Great Gatsby artistic and production team;
photo courtesy Dance Informa

Dance Informa reports that three renowned artists are coming together to create and produce a feature-length ballet version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic The Great Gatsby. Set to premiere in Russia in October 2014, the production has plans to soon thereafter embark on a world tour.

Complexions Contemporary Ballet co-artistic director Dwight Rhoden will be bringing his creative eye to the team. Joining Rhoden will be pop composer Konstantin Meladze, and project star and art director Denis Matvienko, former Mariinsky Ballet principal and ABT guest.

Matvienko, who will star as Jay Gatsby, underwent a major surgery on his leg in April and recently announced his return to performing. Denis Matvienko’s sister, Alyona Matvienko, will serve as the project’s producer.

The first official auditions for The Great Gatsby ballet were held at the Mariinsky Theatre last month. It has not been announced who will partner Matvienko and dance the role of Daisy Buchanan.

To read the full story, visit http://danceinforma.us/articles/allstar-team-joins-up-for-the-great-gatsby/.

 

 

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New York City Ballet 9/11 Video Tribute Wins Video Competition

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Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour in After the Rain; photo by Davi Russo, courtesy Adweek

Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour in After the Rain;
photo by Davi Russo, courtesy Adweek

New York City Ballet was in Copenhagen when the news arrived on Sept. 11, 2001, that the Twin Towers had been attacked. Heartbroken and almost 4,000 miles away from home, ballet master in chief Peter Martins announced to the audience that the company would not dance that night. He promised they would return the next day—and they did. “We were so moved by this story,” recalls Peter Hempel, CEO of ad agency DDB New York. “We wanted a way to capture the spirit of what New York City Ballet believes in, which is new beginnings.”

To do so, DDB, with the help of RadicalMedia, shot NYCB principal dancers Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour performing a segment from After the Rain, by Christopher Wheeldon, at sunrise atop the new 4 World Trade Center. Since being uploaded on Sept. 12, 2013, the tribute has been viewed upwards of 1.1 million times on YouTube, and is the second most-viewed clip in the NYCB site’s history.

It’s also why Adweek named the video the Gold winner in the Production category of Adweek’s first Watch Awards competition, which celebrates the best work and talent in online video.

Rather than rely on the gimmicks many filmmakers use with ballet dancers (close-ups of toes on pointe, elongated limbs), Hempel—who himself trained with NYCB in his youth—says DDB and Radical involved the choreographer and dancers, with an eye on capturing intricate technique. The clip was filmed in one steady take to mimic the experience of watching a live performance. “We were able to not make the mistakes that someone who doesn’t understand ballet would,” says Hempel.

“It was an honor to offer this tribute to the city of New York, and we are grateful to the team at DDB for their creativity, sensitivity and skill in realizing a project that has resonated with so many,” says Karen Girty, NYCB’s senior director of marketing and media.

To see the original story, visit http://www.adweek.com/news-gallery/advertising-branding/sept-11-will-never-be-forgotten-dance-troupe-158485.

 

 

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2 Tips for Ballet Teachers | Polished Pirouettes

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TipsBalletT
By David Arce

Tip 1
When broken down to its simplest form, a pirouette is a quick passé with a relevé and a spot—period. It doesn’t matter how many spots are done. Doing fewer pirouettes with a proper classical ballet finish is always preferable to multiple pirouettes with a sloppy finish.

Students who can’t finish multiple pirouettes cleanly in a center combination most likely cannot end in the same lunge they can when doing a passé relevé or single pirouette. Also, some tend to end their pirouettes in only one position (usually a derrière lunge).

To address these problems, I have students perform a single pirouette with a controlled balance and finish in a predetermined, specific way (e.g., a lunge on any axis away from the supporting leg: forward, à la seconde (in both directions), derrière, and all quadrants in between. I stand in the quadrant the dancer is prone to fall in or prefers to end in and tell him or her not to hit me.

With repetition of this exercise, students will finish a single pirouette in the quadrant you choose, regaining balance and a proper finishing position.

 

Tip 2
During a turn, the dancer must not only hold the position (coupe, passé, etc.) but find more length through the body. Often students achieve the correct position at the beginning of the turn (from preparation to turning position) but then “sit” while rotating. Remind them that they must continue to strive for a lifted, lengthened, and stronger position as they turn.

If I notice “sitting” in a pirouette, during relevé exercises at the barre I have the dancers visualize growing taller—this is the base for the energy they must maintain during turns. By finding more turnout, a higher relevé, more length in the spine, and a squarer and higher working leg position, the students will produce better balances and improve their position in pirouettes.

 

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FYI

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FYI
What’s up in the dance community

Atlanta’s Own “That Girl”

FYI1

Ofelia de La Valette, who opened an adult-focused dance studio, is featured in Marlo Thomas’ latest book. Photo by David Rams/David Rams Photography

When Ofelia de La Valette was a ponytailed kid growing up in New York City in the mid-‘60s, she wanted to be That Girl.

She’d watch the popular TV show of that name, idolizing its star, Marlo Thomas, “and thinking how amazing it would be to grow up and be independent and funny and smart” like Thomas’ character, she told Dance Studio Life. “Of all the TV shows or cultural influences, hers was the most impactful.”

Imagine de La Valette’s surprise two years ago when Thomas’ representatives called and began a year-long process of interviews. Apparently de La Valette’s story—born in Havana, Cuba, in 1960 to a wealthy family that fled, penniless, to NYC when she was 3; growing up poor, discovering dance at age 35, opening a studio at age 46 for adult beginners—fit the theme of Thomas’ latest book. Last month, when It Ain’t Over . . . Till It’s Over: Reinventing Your Life—and Realizing Your Dreams—Anytime, at Any Age was published, de La Valette was one of 60 women profiled in it.

De La Valette started her Atlanta studio, Dance 101, in 2004 with 36 adult students. Today her two locations serve up ballet, tap, jazz, fitness, musical theater, and more, to approximately 1,500 adults each week.

“Something magical happens to people when they dance,” she said. That Girl herself apparently agrees.

 

 

 

 

A Spitball o’ Both Your Houses

FYI3

Photo by Alanna Garcia

What started the Capulet and Montague feud that led to the tragic climax of Romeo and Juliet? Was it a kickball game? Or its origin might have been an exchange of insults: “Your wife is so annoying.” Oh yeah? “Your wife is mad ugly, like you.” Or perhaps a disagreement over which family had the better baked goods was to blame.

Shakespeare didn’t say, so in American Ballet Theatre’s “Make a Ballet” program this spring, 75 fifth-graders “wrote prologues to the prologue” said Dennis J. Walters, ABT’s associate director of education and training.

For 17 years, this in-school residency program has introduced underserved New York City schoolchildren to ballet not just by getting them dancing, but also by immersing them in the many components that interact to create the art, from production to administration to design. This spring, ABT teaching artists assisted students as they discussed Romeo and Juliet’s themes, wrote soliloquies, built set pieces, and created short dances.

For a finale, 25 selected students performed their version of the ballet alongside ABT dancers in a Young People’s Ballet Workshop at the Metropolitan Opera House. “It’s not always the best dancers we select; it’s the kids who are working hard,” Walters told Dance Studio Life. “We’re not identifying dancers. What’s important to us with this program is that we’re exposing students to something new and wonderful.”

 

Humor Moves to Hubbard Street

FYI2

Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago thinks dance should be a laughing matter, and this fall the contemporary company plans to prove it.

The company will create an original production with Chicago’s famed comedy troupe The Second City, which has nurtured comedians such as John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, Steve Carrell, Tina Fey, and Stephen Colbert.

When the collaboration was announced earlier this year, the dates for the show were set—October 16 to 19—but what would appear onstage was still up in the air. Inspired by the successful pairing of The Second City and Lyric Opera of Chicago, which resulted in a revue of comedic sketches and satirical vignettes, Hubbard Street officials were certain its creative minds would click with those at The Second City.

“Improvisation is a key part of our DNA on both sides,” Hubbard Street artistic director Glenn Edgerton said in a release.

 

 

 

 

Applause for Lerman and Brown

At the opening night celebration for the Dance/USA Annual Conference, Liz Lerman and D. David Brown will be recognized for their lifelong devotion to the dance field.

Lerman’s wide-ranging career in dance included an early ’70s stint as a go-go dancer, the 1976 creation of the multifaceted artists’ collaborative Dance Exchange, a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002, and a recent turn as artist in residence at Harvard University.

Brown danced up through Boston Ballet’s ranks before embarking on an equally successful career in company management, both in several positions with Boston and as executive director of Pacific Northwest Ballet.

On June 18, Lerman will receive the Honor Award for her extraordinary leadership, while Brown will receive the Ernie (Ian “Ernie” Horvath) Award for his work behind the scenes that has empowered and supported dance artists.

 

A Fitting Finale

It’s poetically fitting, choreographer Trey McIntyre says, that his respected contemporary company, Trey McIntyre Project, will end its life where it began—at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.

After a fruitful decade of creating dance, McIntyre announced this winter he was disbanding his company to pursue other artistic avenues, such as film and photography.

Ella Baff, the Pillow’s executive and artistic director, said a backstage conversation with McIntyre led to a handful of Pillow performances by a pickup company of his favorite dancers in 2005 and 2006, then to Trey McIntyre Project’s official full-time debut there in 2008.

After saying goodbye in a cross-country tour this spring, TMP’s farewell shows will be held June 25 to 29 at the Pillow’s Ted Shawn Theatre, Becket, Massachusetts.

 

 

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Ballet Scene | Shuffles and Chassés

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Thomas Armour Youth Ballet’s Tap Team, led by teacher Natasha Williams (second from left), boasts 23 members who perform at events such as the TEDx Youth@Miami empowerment program. Photo by Jeff Schweiger

Thomas Armour Youth Ballet’s Tap Team, led by teacher Natasha Williams (second from left), boasts 23 members who perform at events such as the TEDx Youth@Miami empowerment program. Photo by Jeff Schweiger

Tap meets ballet at Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, and the results are anything but mixed
By Ryan P. Casey

You wouldn’t expect to find tap among the offerings at Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, a Miami studio rooted in ballet since 1951. But today this classical ballet school, formerly called The Miami Conservatory, encourages students ages 7 and up to study tap and ballet; for the members of its Tap Team, both forms of dance are required. The result? A win-win scenario.

Tap takes root

According to Miami native and TAYB teacher (and alum) Natasha Williams, 27, the birth of the tap team marked the beginning of a stronger tap presence in her home city. “There were lots of opportunities for dancers who studied modern or ballet,” she says, “but no groups or companies doing tap performances. I wanted my students to have something to work for besides the annual recital. And, as they get older, maybe someday I’ll have my own company.”

Ballet helps [students] learn to use their upper body and arms, which is essential for tap. They develop proper alignment and balance, they’re able to turn, and they know more terminology. —Natasha Williams

TAYB’s expansion into tap happened in 2007, when Williams stopped in to take a ballet class at her former studio. Unbeknownst to her, she was walking into a new job opportunity. The studio’s director, Ruth Wiesen, wanted to diversify the curriculum, and she asked Williams, who had studied tap, jazz, and ballet since childhood, to teach tap.

BalletScene1

Thomas Armour Youth Ballet’s Tap Team, led by teacher Natasha Williams (second from left), boasts 23 members who perform at events such as the TEDx Youth@Miami empowerment program.
Photo by Jeff Schweiger

Williams chose to focus on tap after graduating from New World School of the Arts and studying business at Florida International University; she subsequently attended the inaugural tap program at The School at Jacob’s Pillow in 2010.

Mutual benefits

Now TAYB’s sole tap instructor, Williams says ballet is a boon to her students. “Ballet helps them learn to use their upper body and arms, which is essential for tap. They develop proper alignment and balance, they’re able to turn, and they know more terminology.” That allows her to “incorporate traditional dance moves and basic jazz steps into choreography, not just tap footwork,” she says. And there are more benefits: the students’ “attention to detail improves,” Williams says. And, she adds, “tap helps them musically in ballet. They can figure out the timing of the steps, or identify whether they’re dancing in waltz or 4/4 time.”

Ballet teacher Rosalyn Deshauters agrees. For ballet students, the benefits of tap include “understanding of rhythms,” she says. “My students really get excited by challenging rhythms and quick movement, so I remind them of the steps they’ve learned in tap.” Plus, Deshauters points out, “Many tap steps can be related to ballet steps—like the shuffle, for instance. The in-and-out movement of the leg bending at the knee is like a frappé, as one of my third-grade students pointed out one day.”

“A lot of young ballet students sit back in their heels; tap forces them to be more forward on their feet,” Wiesen adds. “Tap also gives them instant gratification because they can make sounds, and they move across the floor sooner. And it’s a safer choice for male students who are struggling with sexual identity, or who might have fathers or uncles who don’t approve of dance. If I can hook them with tap, maybe I can get them into ballet.”

Tap Team advances

Since 2010, TAYB has offered tap in three levels. Due to space and time constraints at the main studio, all tap classes are held at the school’s satellite locations.

By 2011, some tappers had progressed to an advanced level—but there were no youth companies or performance opportunities for them in the city. So Williams pitched the idea of the Tap Team, which would give the studio’s most skilled hoofers more training and additional shows, including those for which they could earn community-service hours for their academic schools. With Wiesen’s blessing, an eight-member team was formed and quickly flourished; it now boasts 23 members, most of whom are scholarship students. In 2012, Williams and the ensemble performed at a TEDx event; at the countywide Young Talent Big Dreams competition they nabbed a win in the group dance category. Several professional tappers, including Chloe Arnold, Sarah Reich, and Jason Holley, have taught master classes at TAYB.

Through history’s lens

The studio’s curriculum is designed around a framework that incorporates the history of music, art, and dance. Each year all classes explore influences from a certain time period. Last season’s focus was the 1900s through the 1950s: in ballet class, students read about dancers like Margot Fonteyn and choreographer Michel Fokine and watched films of ballets such as Les Sylphides and The Prodigal Son. Tappers studied jazz of the period, from the ragtime of Scott Joplin to the swing of Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson, and other legends.

“Studying dance history and music history always resonated more with me than studying dates and wars and emperors,” Wiesen says. “I decided to take that holistic approach with our students, to show them how art has reflected what has happened in the world, and how world events have affected art.”

Students recently finished their study of the period from the 1950s to the present. Deshauters enlightened her dancers on Alvin Ailey and his most famous piece, Revelations, while Williams challenged students to watch footage of famous tap dancers and try to re-create some of their steps. Other classes listened to Motown music and read books on Martin Luther King Jr. and segregation.

BalletScene2

Thomas Amour tappers keep the beat at the Betty T. Ferguson Recreation Complex in Miami Gardens, one of four outreach sites. Photo courtesy Thomas Armour Youth Ballet Tap Team

Students have also completed art projects: collages inspired by the study of Matisse, flowered headpieces influenced by Frida Kahlo, and murals in the style of iconic 1980s artist Keith Haring, to name a few.

“They learn about history and the world through dance,” Williams says. “And since all the teachers follow the same curriculum for technique and history, a student who switches classes won’t be confused or study something radically different from what they are used to. It makes the studio more cohesive.”

Team TAYB

Ballet and tap work together onstage as well as in the curriculum. For the past two years, TAYB has collaborated in performances with the Greater Miami Youth Symphony, a community-based orchestra program that provides students ages 5 to 18 with professional training and performance experience. In 2012, two ballet dancers and two tap dancers presented a piece to “Summer” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

“Seeing the ballet dancers perform their steps and then the tappers perform their steps to the same music shows the diversity of movement and music interpretation,” Deshauters says. “It’s good for the kids to see that there is more than one way to interpret music, and anyone can do it. You don’t have to label yourself as a tap dancer or ballet dancer. Even though a piece of music sounds a certain way, you can dance to it however you want.”

Last year, a rendition of the Benny Goodman classic “Sing, Sing, Sing” combined ballet, tap, jazz, and modern (offered only to older, advanced students). All of the performers were Tap Team members, whose versatility Williams attributes to their strong cross-training.

“People think tappers can only dance fast and staccato, and ballet can only be allegro or adagio,” Wiesen says. “They’re surprised to learn otherwise. The dancers and the musicians have a real connection. They all work as a team.”

It’s a team effort that keeps TAYB’s award-winning programs running year after year for more than 1,100 students in five locations.

“We do our very best to help kids all around,” Williams says. “Whatever it takes to get kids to class, we’ll do it.”

“I’ve always felt that tap would be a good partner with ballet,” Wiesen says. “They enhance each other. And my students benefit from a more well-rounded dance education.”

Scholarships + Outreach = Success

TAYB’s Tap Team could not exist without the aid of the studio’s scholarship program, which owner Ruth Wiesen, then a relatively new instructor, founded in 1988 as a way to help more students access Miami’s magnet programs in the arts. Funded largely by The Children’s Trust, a property tax–driven funding source that serves the children of Miami-Dade County, the scholarships ensure high-quality dance training for nearly 600 students from low-income families, who are charged only an annual fee of $10. The dancers also receive leotards, tights, and dance shoes.

“Quality classical dance training is not within reach for a majority of children in our community,” Wiesen says. “Classes are expensive, and the schools are located in the most advantaged areas of the community.”

Along with their dance education, TAYB scholarship students receive assistance through The Children’s Trust with issues that affect them and their families and their success beyond the classroom, including tutoring, medical and dental care, lunch money, legal fees, bus fare, and audition coaching for middle and high school arts programs. TAYB also serves as a conduit to agencies that can intervene in situations such as immigration, domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, and sexual identity crises. The program once helped seek housing for a family whose home was condemned and demolished following extensive damage from Hurricane Irene.

Initially the scholarships helped only kids who lived close to the studio; with working parents or no family vehicle, many students could not attend until they were old enough to take public transportation. If the kids couldn’t come to the studio, Wiesen reasoned, the studio had to go to them. In 2000, she approached the principal of Morningside Elementary School in the neighborhood of Little Haiti, whom she knew to be an arts enthusiast, and learned that there was an unused classroom. It became the program’s first outreach site, the fourth and most recent of which opened at the Betty T. Ferguson Recreation Complex in Miami Gardens in 2011. TAYB pays no rent for these sites and provides the same teachers and curriculums as at the main studio.

“The long-term goal of the program is to ensure a college education for all students by laying a foundation of a strong work ethic, social skills, discipline, consistency, focus, and the ability to delay gratification,” says Wiesen.

All scholarship students graduate from high school: 98 percent of them attend college, while 2 percent pursue professional dance careers, according to Wiesen. In 2013, one graduating high school senior was admitted to The Juilliard School. Alumni of the scholarship program include Robert Battle, artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and several current and former members of Martha Graham Dance Company.

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New York City Ballet’s Saratoga Springs Residency Grows from One Week to Two

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New York City Ballet’s Ashley Boulder and Gonzalo Garcia in Saratoga Spring in 2013; photo by Michael P. Farrell/Times Union

New York City Ballet’s Ashley Boulder and Gonzalo Garcia in Saratoga Spring in 2013;
photo by Michael P. Farrell/Times Union

The New York City Ballet, which was forced by financial pressure to limit its Saratoga Performing Arts Center residency in Saratoga Springs, New York, to one week last summer and this year, will return for two weeks in 2015, SPAC management announced.

The Albany Times-Union said the ballet’s residency dates this year are July 8 to 12.

Marcia White, SPAC’s president and executive director, said last week that factors affecting the decision included cost savings realized by two summers of one-week residencies, renegotiated contracts between NYCB and its labor unions, and renewed fundraising efforts.

The ballet costs SPAC slightly more than $1 million per week to produce, of which 40 percent is covered by ticket sales; the rest must be made up by fundraising. Ballet attendance averaged 2,770 per performance last summer, White said, up 10 percent from 2012.

To see the original story, visit http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/A-two-week-residency-for-2015-5559903.php.

 

 

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Turkey Aims to Raise Profile of Ballet in Country by Hosting International Festival

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4th International Istanbul Ballet and Competition Festival; photo by AA

4th International Istanbul Ballet and Competition Festival; photo by AA

The 4th International Istanbul Ballet Competition and Festival, organized to highlight Turkey’s artistic identity, kicks off June 21 at the Zorlu Center PSM with the ballet Count Dracula.

State Opera and Ballet general director Professor Rengim Gökmen, speaking to Anadolu Agency, said he gave great importance to the competition, adding, “I believe this competition makes great contributions to Turkish ballet in terms of opening it to the world. As of June 21, Istanbul will be the place where the heart of world ballet will beat.” The festival ends June 26 with a gala and award ceremony, according to The Hurriyet Daily News.

Gökmen noted that the competition gained the status of being a festival this year and important ballet pieces would be staged. “We want to draw the ballet world’s attention and promote the art of Turkish ballet because this is what we can boast about. Our wish is to use the techniques the world uses,” he said.

Ballet in Turkey began with Russian instructor Lydia Krassa Arzumanova, who opened a ballet studio in Istanbul in 1921. Dame Ninette de Valois, the founder of The Royal Ballet, was invited to Turkey in 1947 for the foundation of Turkish ballet, and in 1948, enrolled 11 male and 18 female students in an Istanbul ballet school.

Later, de Valois sent her assistant Alaine Phillips to Turkey. Phillips reorganized the choreography of Lev Ivanov and Enrico Cecchetti and staged Léo Delibes’ ballet Coppélia in 1961. This was the first ballet performed by Turkish ballet dancers.

To see the original story, visit http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/ballet-stars-to-compete-in-istanbul.aspx?pageID=238&nID=67962&NewsCatID=384.

 

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USA IBC Competitors Advance to Second Round of “Ballet Olympics”

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USA IBC competitor Stephen Lock; photo by Richard Finkelstein

USA IBC competitor Stephen Lock;
photo by Richard Finkelstein

The first round of the 2014 USA International Ballet Competition, now underway in Jackson, Mississippi, concluded with 54 competitors advancing to Round II.

Competitors at the every-four-year international competition hail from Australia, South Africa, Korea, Mongolia, Russia, Brazil, Japan, China, Chile, Cuba, Portugal, Mexico, and elsewhere.

Semi-finalists from the USA advancing to Round II include Steven Loch, senior male; Melissa Gelfin, senior female; Aran Bell and Blake Kessler, junior males; and Gabrielle Chock, Gisele Bethea, Katherine Barkman, Mackenzie Richter, Olivia Gusti, and Victoria Wong, junior females.

Round II begins June 20 at 7:30pm at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson, with sessions two and three on Saturday and Sunday evenings. The two-week competition concludes June 29.

The USA IBC is a two-week, “Olympic-style” competition where dancers vie for gold, silver, and bronze medals, cash awards, company contracts, and scholarships. For more information, visit www.usaibc.com or www.facebook.com/usaibc.

 

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NYCB Photos from 1972 Illustrate Genius of Igor Stravinsky, Balanchine

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New York City Ballet in Symphony in Three Movements in 1972; photo by Gjon Mili/LIFE archives

New York City Ballet in Symphony in Three Movements in 1972; photo by Gjon Mili/LIFE archives

The Russian-born composer, conductor, and pianist Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) remains, more than four decades after his death, a towering figure in 20th-century music. If he had written the music for only one of the three ballets for which he is best known—The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911) and The Rite of Spring (1913)—he would still be celebrated today

LIFE.com paid tribute to Stravinsky this week on his birthday (b. June 17, 1882, in Lomonosov, Russia) through photos made in 1972 by Gjon Mili that capture New York City Ballet dancers during the company’s Stravinsky Festival, which featured ballets by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins inspired by Stravinsky’s music.

In 1972, LIFE magazine wrote: “This tribute to Stravinsky, who died a year ago, was also a triumph for Balanchine, whose mastery of the dance is undiminished at 68. He personally created eight of the new ballets and collaborated with Jerome Robbins on another. ‘The important thing in ballet,’ Balanchine says, ‘is movement itself,’ a thought that photographer Gjon Mili vividly expresses in his photographs.”

To view a series of 15 photos, visit http://life.time.com/culture/gorgeous-color-photos-of-stravinsky-inspired-ballets/#1.

 

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SAB’s Annual Workshop Performance A Rare Opportunity to View Future Stars

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School of American Ballet’s 2014 Workshop Performances; photo by Paul Kolnik

School of American Ballet’s 2014 Workshop Performances; photo by Paul Kolnik

The School of American Ballet’s Workshop Performance Benefit 2014 on June 3 celebrated 50 years of these annual performances and raised nearly $860,000 for scholarships and school programs, reported Elitedance.

The evening included the presentation of the Mae L. Wien Award for Outstanding Service to Dena Abergel, SAB faculty member and NYCB children’s ballet master, and Wien Awards for Outstanding Promise to Lyrica Blankfein, Christopher Grant, Baily Jones, and Addie Tapp.

“We are thrilled to announce that the Workshop Performance Benefit exceeded our original goal,” said Margie Van Dercook, SAB executive director. “We gathered to celebrate five decades of these annual performances—the culmination of each year’s work for the students—and the tremendous generosity of our attendees, donors, and sponsors.”

More than 800 guests attended the Workshop Performance, which, as SAB’s only public annual performance, is a rare opportunity to get a sneak preview of the ballet world’s up-and-coming young stars. The program included Balanchine’s Serenade (staged by Suki Schorer); and excerpts from Coppélia (staged by Dena Abergel, Yvonne Borree, Arch Higgins, Katrina Killian, Lisa de Ribere, Jock Soto, and Sheryl Ware), Swan Lake (staged by Darci Kistler), and Western Symphony (staged by Susan Pilarre).

To see the original story, visit http://elitedance.com/the-school-of-american-ballets-2014-workshop-performance-benefit-raised-nearly-860000/.

 

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Young Pennsylvanian Dancers and Musicians Collaborate For First Time

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Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet; photo by Jeremy Zimmerman

Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet;
photo by Jeremy Zimmerman

Friday night marks the first-ever collaboration between Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Harrisburg Symphony Youth Orchestra (HSYO), held as part of CPYB’s June Series, reported PennLive.

CPYB CEO and resident choreographer Alan Hineline and HSYO conductor Gregory Woodbridge had been talking for over a year to try and find a way for these high-level youth arts organizations to work together. They chose excerpts from Edvard Grieg’s “Holberg Suite” as a work that would be suitable for what Hineline calls a peer-to-peer collaboration.

Musicians and dancers have a different kind of mindset, Woodbridge said. “Dancers work so hard every day. The musicians meet once a week only, although they practice daily. This is an opportunity for them to learn from each other. The musicians are in awe of the dancers’ dedication and sheer physicality, and the dancers become aware of the fine motor skills that musicians need.”

For live dance, the players must be able to follow the conductor closely, understanding every gesture and nuance and be able to make quick changes in tempo at a moment’s notice, depending on what the conductor sees onstage. The collaboration results in something that is bigger and better for both groups than what they do as individual organizations, Woodbridge said.

CPYB’s June Series will run June 18 to 21 at 7pm at the Whitaker Center, 222 Market Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with the HYSO collaboration featured during the “See The Music Dance” performance on June 20. Tickets are $16 to $30. To purchase, call 717.214.2787 or visit www.whitakercenter.org.

To see the original story, visit http://www.pennlive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2014/06/cpyb_and_nycb_dancers_to_wow_a.html.

 

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Royal Ballet Dancers to Skip Russia Tour in Protest of Anti-Gay Policies

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Wayne McGregor rehearsing dancers from The Royal Ballet; photo courtesy the Independent

Wayne McGregor rehearsing dancers from The Royal Ballet; photo courtesy the Independent

The New York Times reports that two Royal Ballet dancers have decided not to join the Royal Ballet’s upcoming tour to Russia, as a protest against the anti-gay legislation supported by President Vladimir V. Putin. The company would not name the dancers or give their rank, although other news outlets described them as “senior” company members.

Ashley Woodfield, a spokesman for The Royal Ballet, said the dancers had talked to director Kevin O’Hare, who had agreed to respect their decision.

In an email, Mr. O’Hare, said: “We are a company of 96 dancers and just two have decided that they do not want to tour to Moscow for political reasons, something The Royal Ballet has known for a couple of months. This has no impact on our ability to present a fantastic program of work for ballet audiences at the Bolshoi, on a par with the thrilling evenings given to us by the Bolshoi when they have visited us here at the Royal Opera House. We respect the right of dancers or other staff to request not to go on tour internationally.”

The Royal Ballet is scheduled to perform at the Bolshoi in Moscow from June 17 to 22, its first appearance in Russia in over a decade. One program features Tetractys—The Art of Fugue, choreographed by Wayne McGregor, whose Rite of Spring for the Bolshoi was cancelled in the wake of the January 2013 acid attack on Sergei Filin.

To see the original story, visit: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/06/02/two-royal-ballet-dancers-to-skip-russian-tour-in-protest/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&ref=dance&_r=1&.

 

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Two New Ballet Class CDs From Christopher Hobson Receive ‘Thumbs Up’ Review

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Modern Ballet Studio Melodies Original Ballet Compositions; cover image courtesy Facebook

Modern Ballet Studio Melodies Original Ballet Compositions; cover image courtesy Facebook

Two new ballet class CDs from UK pianist Christopher Hobson—Modern Ballet Studio Melodies, Volume 5 and Modern Ballet Studio Melodies Original Compositions—received favorable reviews from 4Dancers.org assistant editor and ballet instructor Emily Kate Long.

Long said each CD features 32 non-repeating tracks of “crisply recorded” solo piano music. Volume 5 includes favorites like “Hit the Road, Jack” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” along with some more obscure tunes. “The music is familiar but the tunes aren’t intrusive or distracting,” Long says. “One of my favorites is [Hobson’s] Debussy-esque treatment of Irving Berlin’s ‘Always,’ for pliés.”

Original Compositions,” she says, “has all the fun, flair, and flavor of Hobson’s popular tune albums. The music here has a nice balance of peppy numbers and gentle, lyrical pieces; all simply and gracefully played. The tempi are consistent, but within that frame, the phrasing is very sensitive and playful. I know it will become a staple in my classroom of intermediate and advanced students.”

Long continues, “As with the first four Modern Ballet Studio Melodies CDs, these two feature more adagio music than on most ballet class albums. The allegro tracks have a pleasing range of speed and length, and both discs conclude with a cool down and reverence.”

These two collections are available on iTunes and on Christopher Hobson’s website, www.balletpiano.co.uk. To see the original story, visit http://www.4dancers.org/2014/06/modern-ballet-studio-melodies-volume-5-and-modern-ballet-studio-melodies-original-compositions/.

 

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Who’s the Tallest of Them All? Joffrey Ballet’s Fabrice Calmels

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Fabrice Calmels; photo by Daniel Kelleghan

Fabrice Calmels;
photo by Daniel Kelleghan

At six feet six inches, Fabrice Calmels is the tallest professional ballet dancer. The Joffrey Ballet dancer and native of France recently spoke with Chicagoist about whether his height has worked as an advantage or disadvantage when it comes to dancing.

FC: “It was a disadvantage for the longest time. Prior to Joffrey Ballet, I was with the Paris Opera. I did all my studies with them, in boarding school, and after I started growing, they didn’t know what to do with me. They were shocked.

“The Paris Opera, it’s a large institution . . . over 100 dancers. They are perfection people . . . they fit and assemble, all the same height, everybody is the same body type, and I was a giant! When I came to the U.S., it was kind of the same thing. Nobody [in auditions] ever saw a dancer this tall. So for the longest time, it was really a disadvantage because I couldn’t show what I was doing and who I really was as a performer, because all they would see is that height. And it was for them a wall, a giant wall and a barrier they couldn’t pass.

“With height, coordination becomes a challenge. A lot of people said, ‘You’re never going to be able to make it.’ It was a challenge because it was a lot to figure out. You rotate in the air, you do big jumps, you do split jumps, rotation with split jumps, many many turns—and all those different techniques require different knowledge with understanding how your body functions. It requires a lot of coordination and awareness and understanding. I’m so glad that I was able to do the work and be able to conquer that. That was a huge achievement for me.”

To read the full interview, visit http://chicagoist.com/2014/06/04/interview_fabrice_calmels.php.

 

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Second Group of Defectors in Two Years Helped by Miami’s Cuban Classical Ballet

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Edward Gonzalez and Arianni Martin defected from the Cuban National Ballet in April 2013; photo by Alan Diaz/Associated Press

Edward Gonzalez and Arianni Martin defected from the Cuban National Ballet in April 2013; photo by Alan Diaz/Associated Press

Six deserters from the Cuban National Ballet who fled the dance troupe while visiting Puerto Rico this weekend already have the pledged support of Pedro Pablo Peña, who heads up the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, according to Voxxi.

Peña told the Associated Press that he planned on supporting them and was going to offer them an artistic space while they determined what to do next. He says he already spoke to four of those dancers.

It’s common for dancers to defect, whether to escape the Castro dictatorship, or for better economic conditions. (Cuban ballet dancers tend to earn an average of $30 a month.) “Their careers are stifled in the island, when they see they have not possibilities (that most artists have abroad),” Peña told Spanish news agency EFE.

Despite the ballet’s prestige, the practice of defecting has happened for decades. According to the AP, the first Cuban National Ballet (Ballet Nacional Cubano) defection occurred in 1966 when the dance company was in Paris, with the dancers citing political reasons. Peña, a Cuban exiled dancer, also helped seven dancers who defected in March of 2013.

Peña confirmed the most recent group, comprised of two women and four men, is doing well, even though they did express some nervousness after daring to escape to a foreign land. To see the original story, visit http://voxxi.com/2014/06/09/cuban-ballet-dancers-defect-puerto-rico/.

 

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Sarasota Ballet Mourns Death of Dancer After His Bicycle is Struck By a Truck

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Pedro Pupa; photo by Barbara Banks

Pedro Pupa; photo by Barbara Banks

A delivery truck driver faces charges after his vehicle struck and killed Sarasota Ballet corps de ballet dancer Pedro Pupa, who was riding a bicycle near the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, last Wednesday afternoon.

WFLA Channel 8 said Pupa was transported to Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, where he died from his injuries Wednesday night.

A statement from the ballet said Pupa, a native of Brazil, had been with the company for two years. It spoke of the dancer’s determination and courage dealing with a knee injury, of his radiant smile and zest for life, and also of his generosity to friends, family, and colleagues.

“Only a few hours before the accident, he was at the studio doorway waving and smiling at me, telling me that he was happy because he was doing class again,” Margaret Barbieri, assistant director, said in the statement. “I will remember this image of him always. We will all miss Pedro more than words can describe, but he will be in our hearts and thoughts forever.”

“Pedro was one of the nicest young men I have had the pleasure to know,” managing director Mary Anne Servian said. “Always a smile—always a kind word. Pedro lived life to the fullest.”

To see the news report, visit http://www.wfla.com/story/25702878/sarasota-ballet-dancer-killed-in-bicycle-crash.

 

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New Film About Early Days of AIDS Features Strong Cast of San Francisco Dancers

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Scott Marlowe; photo by Tim Hussin

Scott Marlowe; photo by Tim Hussin

Ballet dancer Chris Mason Johnson’s second movie, Test, which follows a young dancer named Frankie living in San Francisco during the early days of the AIDS crisis, begins screening this month in 13 cities and via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and other on-demand services today.

SFGate reports that the movie—a sleeper hit on the festival circuit—features dancers from San Francisco Ballet, Robert Moses’ Kin, and other companies in extended dance sequences, and is choreographed by New York dancemaker Sidra Bell. Many of the San Francisco–area dancers have small acting roles, too. Scott Marlowe, a dancer and administrator with the SoMa–based LEVYdance company, stars as shy, fearful Frankie.

Mason Johnson, a member of Ballet Frankfurt in the ’90s, wrote from his experience of being a young gay dancer (he trained at New York’s School of American Ballet), but transposed the story to San Francisco. Frankie deals with the mounting panic and homophobia of the early AIDS years, and struggles with an attraction toward a sexy fellow company member played by Broadway veteran Matthew Risch.

“So many of the AIDS movies out there are deathbed stories,” Mason Johnson said by phone. “I had started to have survivor’s guilt. I felt like my story didn’t matter, like I didn’t have a right to it, but as an artist I wanted to address this other side.”

To see a trailer and for more information on the film, visit http://www.testthefilm.com/. To read the full story, visit http://www.sfgate.com/movies/article/Dancer-Scott-Marlowe-steps-up-in-new-role-actor-5523397.php.

 

 

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Former Taliban Captive Bowe Bergdahl Studied Ballet Before Joining the Army

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Bowe Bergdahl; photo courtesy Sherry Horton

Bowe Bergdahl; photo courtesy Sherry Horton

While several of Bowe Bergdahl’s former comrades describe him as a deserter who became disillusioned with the military mission in Afghanistan, others paint a picture of a kind-hearted, complicated man—whose hobbies included ballet.

Bergdahl spent five years in captivity with the Taliban, and is at the center of a controversy after being handed over to the United States in exchange for the release of five prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Sherry Horton, artistic director of Sun Valley Ballet in Idaho, told Fox News how she reacted when Bergdahl told her he’d joined the Army just days before leaving. “I was not surprised,” Horton said, “just because of his beliefs, his upbringing—so many things about him. He was all about protecting the rights of the U.S. and citizens and being a person who took charge.”

Born in Idaho in 1986, Bergdahl and his sister were educated at home by their parents Bob and Jani, who raised their children as strict Calvinists, studying religious thinkers and philosophers at their home on 40 acres in Hailey, Idaho. At the age of 16, he started taking ballet lessons at a local studio, where he was introduced to Buddhism and meditation.

“He was always trying to expand and learn about different cultures and all sorts of different things,” Horton said. He liked exploring other cultures so much he even managed to learn some Russian from one of the ballet instructors at the school.

Despite being one of the “best-mannered” men she knew, Horton admitted Bergdahl had a tendency to become overwhelmed. “There were lots of times here when things would get a little crazy and all he wanted to do is walk into the forest or up into the hills and sit down and meditate for an hour,” Horton said.

To read the full story, visit http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/06/03/ballet-and-buddhism-friend-paints-complex-picture-bergdahls-interests/.

 

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Dallas Cowboys Hope to Get a Leg Up on Injuries With Installation of Ballet Barres

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Dancers at a ballet barre; photo by Darcy Knoblich

Dancers at a ballet barre; photo by Darcy Knoblich

When it comes to preventing injuries, NFL football teams should and would consider every avenue. So, at the risk of a few snickers, the Dallas Cowboys organization is installing ballet barres outside the team’s locker room to help players stretch out, reports NBC Sports.

According to Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News, the new equipment comes after 12 players were sidelined with thigh or hamstring issues last year.

“We’ve put a big emphasis on addressing, as an organization, some of the injuries that we’ve had,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says. “Just an emphasis on stretching, giving our players the opportunity, whether it’s with ballet [barres] or V-sits or back systems. Whatever things we use, we try to help them get into routines that can help them be flexible and avoid some of the injuries we’ve had.”

Coach Garrett adds, “It’s always been an emphasis for us. We have to look at ourselves and what we’re doing to help our players stay as healthy as possible.”

It remains to be seen whether the ballet barres work or not. Too many players stretch in a way that may not be effective simply because that’s the way they’ve always stretched. Yet, “addressing what has been a noticeable problem is a good idea,” NBC’s Pro Football Talk says.

To see the original story, visit http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/06/02/cowboys-install-ballet-bars-to-help-get-loose/.

 

 

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Courage of Three-Year-Old Disabled Dancer Celebrated in Oregon Studio Concert

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Brielle Crawford; photo courtesy ABC News

Brielle Crawford; photo courtesy ABC News

Three-year-old Brielle Crawford has grown to love dancing, even though doctors initially feared a mistake might lead her to permanently harm herself.

ABC News affiliate KEZI-TV in Eugene, Oregon, said Brielle was born with two rare disorders that threatened her ability to move. Part of her lower face is paralyzed because of the congenital disorder, hemifacial microsomia. In addition, a bone disorder called Klippel-Feil syndrome resulted in two spinal bones in her neck being fused. The disorders have led to some paralysis on her right side, a missing rib, and her ear not being fully developed, according to her mother, Jaylene Crawford.

Doctors feared what might happen if Brielle fell—with one warning that a severe fall could mean paralysis. Doctors continue to monitor Brielle, and the toddler will likely need surgery for scoliosis that will result in limited spine movement.

However, once Brielle was given clearance to dance, she began taking ballet and tap classes at All That! Dance Company in Oregon. Dance teachers, inspired by the pint-size dancer’s courage, held a benefit concert last Friday at the Wildish Theater in Springfield, Oregon. The concert, titled Overcome, raised funds to help with Brielle’s medical expenses, including future surgeries.

“Brielle is so spunky and so much fun. She has so much personality, and that is why we really wanted this concert to be about overcoming. It’s about the triumph of her little spirit,” said All That! Dance Company studio owner Sarah Beth Byrum.

To see the full story, visit http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/05/29/pint-size-dancer-inspires-despite-genetic-disorder/.

 

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Police Officer Joins Ballet Dancer Brother in Youth Ballet Venture

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Norwalk Metropolitan Youth Ballet; photo courtesy Facebook

Norwalk Metropolitan Youth Ballet; photo courtesy Facebook

Adam Holms, a professional ballet dancer, and his brother, officer Christopher Holms of the Norwalk [CT] Police Department, have launched the Norwalk Metropolitan Youth Ballet—because, according to Adam, “Any place where there’s kids and dance, there is joy.”

It’s Relevant said the Holms brothers share a common belief that the arts not only can change the lives of children and adults who participate, but also has the potential to shape a community’s future.

“Ballet is all about discipline. It is all about being part of a history, a lineage,” said Adam, who entered the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City at the age of 16 and went on to dance at Northwest Florida Ballet.

His brother, Christopher, serves as chief advisor for the police department’s Police Explorers’ program, as well as head of the DARE program in the city’s schools. “There is so much untapped potential out there. I see it all the time in schools. When I mention my brother does ballet, a lot of kids say, ‘your brother . . . ?’ and I say, ‘OK, so what does a ballet dancer look like?’ and it’s always the same exact image. We are breaking those barriers,” Christopher said.

“What better way to celebrate childhood and youth then through the art of dancing, while also creating a sense of discipline and just a love of self. I want to prepare kids for a life in the arts but also allow them to have the arts in their lives,” Adam said.

Classes begin September 8. For more information, visit www.nmyb.org. To see the original story, visit http://norwalk.itsrelevant.com/content/18801/two-brothers-one-ballet-studio.

 

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International Star, Carlos Acosta, to Retire From Ballet After 2015–16 Season

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Carlos Acosta; photo by Johan Persson

Carlos Acosta; photo by Johan Persson

Carlos Acosta has announced that he will retire from classical ballet in two years’ time after a “swan song” production of Carmen, announced the Telegraph.

The international star will choreograph and star in the Royal Ballet production, set for September 2015. He plans to retire from classical ballet at the end of the 2015–16 season—though he will continue to perform in contemporary works.

Acosta, 40, is widely considered among the most charismatic and dramatic of performers, receiving critical acclaim and selling out theaters wherever he performs. Speaking in an interview with Telegraph arts editor in chief Sarah Crompton, Acosta said he had been “grieving” for the end of his career for some time, and joked that he would have to employ a choreographer to devise a dance for him sitting down.

Considering a move into contemporary dance, Acosta hinted he would consider starting his own, small, dance company, but would eschew taking up full-time directorship immediately because it would be “exhausting.”

Acosta also shared his thoughts on a new generation of ballet dancers, saying that an increasing number took up the discipline for money and fame rather than passion. To see the full story, visit http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/hay-festival/10855436/Carlos-Acosta-Im-retiring-from-ballet.html.

 

 

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Britain’s Big Ballet Docu-Series Premieres on Ovation This Wednesday

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Big Ballet; courtesy Ovation

Big Ballet; courtesy Ovation

Dancers need long limbs and willowy figures to make it in ballet, but not if they’re in Big Ballet, a three-episode reality series that premiers May 28 at 10pm on Ovation.

The Wall Street Journal said that Big Ballet follows 18 plus-size British dancers as they prepare to perform the world’s most famous classical ballet, Swan Lake. The documentary-style show captures these brave souls in auditions, rehearsals, and a performance that defies preconceptions of ballet and body shape.

It took five months to turn these amateurs into graceful swans. “We looked like dropouts of Fame at the beginning,” said dancer Christine Longster, 52. “I was in my Zumba clothes.”

Like many reality shows, Big Ballet has a mentor: the former Royal Ballet principal Wayne Sleep, who had his own point to make about size. Standing just five-foot-two, he was the shortest man to join the London ballet company, where he danced for more than a decade.

He sees the series as delivering a message to today’s youth and teachers. “Ballet is not fair,” he said. “Why is it that you have to be a certain size?”

The British production company Rare Day created the series, but Ovation, a cable network devoted to arts programming, said it is considering a longer American version after the three-episode series airs. To read the full story, visit http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303480304579576281797088794.

 

 

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Royal Winnipeg Anniversary Coin Depicts Sleeping Beauty Scene—in Color

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Royal Winnipeg Ballet coin; photo courtesy Coin Update

Royal Winnipeg Ballet coin; photo courtesy Coin Update

The Royal Canadian Mint is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet with a silver collector coin that depicts a view from Sleeping Beauty and comes in a music box, reports Coin Update.

The one-ounce silver coin depicts an engraved rendition of a photograph by one of Canada’s foremost dance photographers, David Cooper—an overhead view of six dancers from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty. With their arms outstretched and intertwined, the dancers form a snowflake-like pattern as they lean forward, their right legs outstretched in front of them so that their pointe shoes meet at the center.

As part of the reverse design, the coin incorporates a new color technique that faithfully re-creates the stunning costumes worn by the dancers and further showcases the embellishments that adorn their traditional platter tutus.

The obverse of the coin includes a portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II created by Susanna Blunt and used on Canadian circulation and commemorative coinage since 2003. For more information, visit http://news.coinupdate.com/royal-winnipeg-ballet-silver-coin-comes-in-music-box-3299/.

 

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New York City Tough-Love Ballet Academy Featured in New Docu-Series

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Big Apple Ballet; photo courtesy Facebook

Big Apple Ballet; photo courtesy Facebook

Big Apple Ballet, a reality docu-series under development, centers on former top dancer François Perron and the tough-love style of teaching he employs at his school, the French Academie of Ballet, in New York City.

A release from PR Web says that Perron has a likeability factor—a joie de vivre charm—whether he’s all dressed up in Hugo Boss and on his best behavior for one of FAB’s Manhattan performances, or displaying his French ferocity in the classroom where he demands the best from his students—many with dreams of professional ballet careers.

Perron is a graduate of the Paris Opera Ballet School and danced for New York City Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre, among others. He teaches at American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and at The Juilliard School, and was a ballet coach for the Broadway show, Billy Elliot: The Musical. He founded FAB in 2011.

The show is being developed by Susan Beck Productions and is currently seeking a distributor. For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/realityballettv. To see the original press release, visit http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/05/prweb11867482.htm.

 

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Dads’ Recital Dance Designed as Fundraiser for Cancer Center

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Jack Pickett and fellow Dance Dads; photo by Scott Rosts/Niagara This Week staff

Jack Pickett and fellow Dance Dads; photo by Scott Rosts/Niagara This Week staff

Ballet Etc. in St. Catharines, Ontario, was struck hard by cancer in 2013. Dancers had family members die or diagnosed. Director Jane Elliott herself lost her father to cancer. So friend and dance mom Elizabeth Taliano suggested that the Dance Dads number at the spring showcase take on special meaning by raising funds—and awareness—for the Walker Family Cancer Centre.

“I thought it was a fantastic idea,” Elliott told Niagara This Week. She invited the fathers of dancers to apply for 25 spots on a Dance Dads performance team. Each dad would have to commit to more than 10 hours of rehearsals and raise a minimum of $500 for the cancer center to earn their tutu for the year-end performance.

“I thought it would be tough to get 25 dads, but we actually had even more. They’ve been committed, not just here dancing but in getting the word out,” said Elliott, noting the team consists of community leaders and professionals, including physicians, a surgeon, business owners, ministers, teachers, and others.

An original fundraising goal of $12,500 was quickly surpassed. As of last week, the effort had raised more than $48,000.

There was no hesitation, she said, when the dads learned they would be wearing tutus in front of what is expected to be a sold-out crowd during the recital, May 23 and 24. “They laughed out loud and loved it,” she recalls. “That’s what’s made this so special. They haven’t hesitated. They’ve embraced it, and the community has as well.”

For more information, visit www.balletetc.ca. To see the original story, visit http://www.niagarathisweek.com/news-story/4520267-dancing-for-somebody/.

 

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Program Brings Together Mentor Alexei Ratmansky and Young SFB Protégé

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Myles Thatcher (left) with Alexei Ratmansky; photo: ©Rolex/Reto Albertalli

Myles Thatcher (left) with Alexei Ratmansky; photo: ©Rolex/Reto Albertalli

San Francisco Ballet corps de ballet member and budding choreographer Myles Thatcher will be personally mentored for a year by American Ballet Theatre artist in residence Alexei Ratmansky through the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

The biennial philanthropic program was created by Rolex to ensure that the world’s artistic heritage is passed on from generation to generation, across continents and cultures. Thatcher is one of seven young artists personally selected by their mentors who will receive a grant of 25,000 Swiss francs and are eligible for an additional 25,000 Swiss francs for the creation of new work after the mentoring year.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Thatcher trained at The Harid Conservatory, Ellison Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet School prior to being named an apprentice in 2009 and joining the company in 2010.

Helgi Tomasson, SF Ballet artistic director and principal choreographer, said the ballet is “incredibly proud” that Thatcher was selected for this honor. “I’ve personally enjoyed watching Myles grow as a dancer, and most recently, as a budding choreographer. I look forward to seeing his first work for the company, which will premiere in the 2015 season,” Tomasson said.

For more information, visit http://www.rolexmentorprotege.com/mentors__proteges/dance.

 

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California Studio Fulfills a Need by Teaching Ballet Classes in Spanish

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Salinas School of Dance; photo courtesy The Californian

Salinas School of Dance;
photo courtesy The Californian

Andrea Bernal speaks enthusiastically about her new ballet class for girls from 2 and a half to 4 years old at the Salinas [CA] School of Dance that she teaches in Spanish.

“We have a lot of girls who speak only Spanish and it’s hard for them to understand when the teacher is explaining in English,” Bernal told the Californian. “I’m very proud and very happy that [the studio owner] trusted me to be the instructor in that class.”

Although Salinas School of Dance offers tap, jazz, Irish dance, and ballet classes, the new Spanish class is for ballet beginners only. (Steps are taught using the French terminology.)

“Last summer a mother came with her daughter, hoping to be accepted because she was rejected from another place because they didn’t speak Spanish,” Lisa Eisemann, owner and director of Salinas School of Dance, said. “I think it was the launching point to me. I just can’t imagine saying to a child ‘You can’t come here because you don’t speak English.’ I just want to make them most comfortable so they love their experiences and they carry that with them.”

To see the full story, visit http://www.thecalifornian.com/story/
news/education/2014/05/15/beginners-can-learn-ballet-in-spanish/9151939/
.

 

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Clothing Company Makes Grand Faux Pas

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Free People ad; photo courtesy Adweek

Free People ad; photo courtesy Adweek

The clothing manufacturer Free People released an ad that was meant to promote its dancewear, but instead has sent the dance world into a tizzy of dismay.

Comments on the company’s website include criticism of the model’s obvious lack of technique, especially her sickled feet and dangerous lack of strength while ostensibly on pointe. Adweek ran a story on the response to the ad, noting that Under Armour’s campaign, featuring American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland, might serve as a model for ballet-oriented ads in the future.

One commenter wrote, “Free People, please fire your casting director ASAP. This was painful to watch and offensive to anyone who has taken more than one dance class in their life.”

Another commented: “Has she been TRAINED????? Her feet are TERRIBLE, her lines are TERRIBLE . . . I could go on. This is OFFENSIVE to dancers out there. You went and decided to cast some local “ballet dancer” because she had your look. Shame on you, there are plenty of professionals out there that would have looked stunning in this.”

To see the video, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ait1hWgXVGo. To see the full story, visit http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/trained-dancers-are-completely-appalled-ballet-ad-free-people-clothing-157682.

 

 

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Two Violinists’ Musical Journey Leads From the Subway to the Boston Ballet Stage

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Boston Ballet violinists for “Cacti,” Josh Knowles (left) and Rhett Price; photo courtesy Lacrosse Playground

Boston Ballet violinists for “Cacti,” Josh Knowles (left) and Rhett Price; photo courtesy Lacrosse Playground

When Josh Knowles and Rhett Price started busking on the streets of Boston, they would take home a mere $12 a day—barely enough to buy dinner. This week, the two violinists were dressed in tuxedos while performing for the Boston Ballet.

“Playing in the subway, that’s how we got here,” Knowles told the Boston Herald. “We’re not playing in the subway (anymore) though, we’re playing at the Opera House.”

“Which is going to be sick; I’m stoked,” Price added.

The two musicians are part of a four-person string quartet performing onstage with the Boston Ballet in the contemporary ballet “Cacti,” the finale of a three-ballet program titled Pricked that ends its run Sunday. They were approached by the ballet company a year ago, shortly after they recorded a rendition of Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” at South Station. It went viral on YouTube and is up to 1.3 million hits.

The two young men now support themselves on their music alone. Their next biggest challenge might just be figuring out all the buttons on those tuxes. “Now I’m confused,” Price said, as the Herald followed him to his fitting. “I told you dude, it’s hard,” Knowles added.

To see the original story and view a video report, visit http://bostonherald.com/entertainment/arts_culture/2014/05/
subway_violinists_stoked_to_get_boston_ballet_gig
.

 

 

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